Editorial: University in the community

Editorial: University in the community

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During a meeting of the Port Jefferson Board of Trustees on Monday, Aug. 1, trustee Lauren Sheprow suggested building closer ties between the village government and Stony Brook University experts.

Sheprow, who worked as the university communications officer at SBU for over a decade, proposed the creation of a local think tank composed of resident experts whose specialized knowledge could be used in service to the community. We believe that this is a neat idea, worthy of the public’s attention and further exploration.

Long Islanders sometimes forget that there are world-renowned scholars living among us. SBU is the largest single-site employer on Long Island. This institution harbors thousands of faculty members who are trained specialists in their chosen fields.

Citizens can often feel alienated from their local government. Municipal operations — reports, budgets, meetings, hearings and so on — can appear to be endless drudgery at times. Perhaps, innovative thinkers could be the source of new ideas.

With regularity, we read about various scientific and medical breakthroughs made by SBU faculty members. From the sciences to mathematics, the humanities to the arts, SBU students and faculty are changing our world for the better. These are people of immense talent and wisdom, sometimes an untapped resource in solving local problems.

The community would tap into local experts who could offer up their insights on matters that most affect us. Specialists could advise our elected officials to make better decisions. 

This is not without precedent. During the administration of SBU President John Marburger, there was a community advisory council, or CAC, in which such a relationship was forged. It was disbanded some 15 years ago. Perhaps it’s time to bring that back.

Anything that brings the government closer to the people, injecting new blood and ideas into the political process, is beneficial to democracy. We should support our local municipalities in strengthening their ties to local universities. This is good for the government, the university and the people.

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